April 5, 2012 by
Categories: Preaching | Resources
C.J. Mahaney recently preached three sermons at Solid Rock Church that touch on surprising parts of Scripture. You can listen to them below, or check out his older sermons.
A Surprising Punch Line, on Luke 18:9-14
A Surprising Command, on James 1:1-4
A Surprising Prayer, on Psalm 88:1-18
December 16, 2011 by
The Old Testament book of Leviticus is filled with detailed ancient rituals which have not been performed now for almost 2,000 years. So preaching through the book of Leviticus in a modern church is a herculean task, but it’s also a challenge a growing number of pastors are willing to take on. Jared Mellinger, the senior pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church, is one of them. This year he preached a text-topical series through the book (lasting from May to September). I asked him about the experience.
Was Leviticus as hard or intimidating to preach as you were expecting?
Preaching straight through the entire book would have likely been very challenging, and it would have forced me to say things that my parents taught me to never talk about in public! I cheated a bit and decided to limit the series to 14 sermons on select passages. After studying the entire book, I identified four major themes in Leviticus, and then preached sermons that focused primarily on those themes. There is some great scholarship on Leviticus that makes preaching this difficult book less challenging.
What was the effect of all those months in Leviticus on your own soul?
I fell in love with Leviticus as I studied this book.
The four themes that we focused on in the series describe what Leviticus did in my own soul.
First, I learned to stand in awe of the holiness of God. God gave us Leviticus because he is determined to be regarded as majestic and glorious among his people.
Second, I came to see more of the sinfulness and seriousness of sin in my own life. Chapters 4 and 5 of Leviticus, in particular, expanded my understanding of the doctrine of sin with categories like sins of omission and unintentional sins.
Third, Leviticus helped me grow in treasuring Christ’s work of substitutionary atonement and deepened my understanding of the absolute centrality of his death on the cross.
Fourth, I was challenged to grow in radical holiness in every area of life. Reading Leviticus causes me to continually re-consecrate my life to the Lord.
How did folks in the church respond to the series?
People were enthusiastic about it and we saw God answering our prayers for the series. I was greatly encouraged. My brothers and sisters at Covenant Fellowship love God’s Word, so they are always quite happy as long as we are feeding them the Scriptures. But still, it was challenging to transfer a passion for Leviticus beyond the Sunday service.
One woman told me she was excited about Leviticus after one of the sermons, but when she went home to read Leviticus that week, she rediscovered that the book was just as lifeless as she remembered it to be! I think we can all relate to that challenge on some level. Also, a good number of people had questions about certain obscure texts they were already familiar with. I had lumberjacks saying, “I can’t wait until you get to the part about beards,” and mothers of teenagers saying, “I am very much looking forward to the passage on tattoos.” I’m afraid I might have disappointed some people by dodging certain issues!
What unexpected benefits did the church experience from the series?
After studying Leviticus, I think we now have more confidence in approaching difficult sections of Scripture. We have learned through experience that all Scripture is breathed out by God, relevant to our lives today, and profitable in equipping us for good works. We were also able to understand more of how the Old Testament and the New Testament relate to each other. We came to realize how essential familiarity with the Old Testament is in knowing and treasuring Jesus Christ as we ought. And the book of Hebrews came to life in a whole new way for us as we understood it in light of Leviticus.
What (if any) resources were surprisingly helpful to you as a preacher of Leviticus?
The book of Hebrews was helpful! Although that was hardly a surprise. Also not a surprise was Wenham’s masterful commentary on Leviticus (the resource I found most helpful), and Ross’s Holiness to the Lord. One book that isn’t as well known as it should be, in my opinion, is Immanuel in Our Place: Seeing Christ in Israel’s Worship, by Tremper Longman. It is the best resource I know on the Old Testament sacrificial system, the sacred spaces of the tabernacle and temple, the priesthood, and the special festivals and days on Israel’s calendar. Also, Andrew Bonar’s commentary was the resource I used in my devotions. He brings life and passion to Leviticus, feeds my soul more than any other author on Leviticus, and shows how each passage points to Christ.
You can find the 14-week sermon series on Leviticus listed below. And preachers considering Leviticus may be interested in this list of resources compiled by The Gospel Coalition.
- Holy: Why Leviticus? [05.01.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: The Perfect Sacrifice [05.15.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: Realizing Our Guilt [05.22.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: True Repentance [05.29.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: The Priesthood [06.05.11; Rob Flood]
- Holy: The Glory of the Lord Appears [06.12.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: Bewail the Burning [06.26.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: The Consecration Connection [07.03.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: Full Atonement! [07.10.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: The Sanctity of Sex [07.17.11; Jim Donohue]
- Holy: Holiness through Love [07.24.11; Jace Hudson]
- Holy: Holy Celebration [08.07.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: If Your Brother Becomes Poor [09.11.11; Jared Mellinger]
- Holy: He Will Remember the Covenant [09.25.11; Jared Mellinger]